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Marshman, John Clark


Marshman, John Clark (1794-1877) a missionary, historian, and a journalist. Born in a weaving family in Bristol, Marshman arrived at serampore, a Danish trading settlement, with his evangelical parents at the age of five. He grew up in Bengal. He received education under two great divines, carey and Ward. His parents Joshua Marshman and Hannah Shepherd had come to India with missionary aims in mind. John Clark Marshman became an activist of the serampore mission from 1812. To receive training in missionary work he visited Italy, Rome and Greece. In 1818, he joined the serampore mission press and in the same year he joined the Samachar Darpan which he led until 1841. From 1818 Marshman also edited and published the influential Friend of India (Monthly and Quarterly) until 1827. In 1818 Marshman was appointed the principal of serampore college. He became a translator to the government in 1833 and the editor of the Government Gazette in 1840.

John Clark Marshman is an important person in the history of the spread of western education in India. He not only wrote voluminously, but his papers and tracts strongly supported the cause of spreading education among the Bengalis. He also wrote and translated numerous textbooks for school students. The establishment of calcutta school-book society in 1817 was Marshman’s idea. He also wrote at length to make the British administration more benign and more attentive to the welfare of Indians. He wrote many history books for school students.

Of the historical works of Marshman, mention may be made of a few which were immensely popular among students and general readers throughout the nineteenth century. These are Outline of the History of Bengal, and The History of India. His How Wars Arrive in India was a thought provoking work for contemporary readers. As a journalist too, Marshman was very successful. Development of human resources through education and learning was one of his pet subjects. [Sirajul Islam]